Vacation Fun!

Where do I start? We arrived home Tuesday morning from our first big family vacation. It was… what’s the right word to use? Great? Wonderful? Incredible.
I think it’s so good that despite the literal distance between us, whenever we get together with Anna and Jason there is an instant comfort and kinship. It has not disappeared. We enjoyed spending so much time together, we loved seeing so many fun things in Oregon (I forgot how BEAUTIFUL it is there!), and to top it all off, Camille was awesome! I really couldn’t have asked for a better baby. She flew well, she adjusted to the time change perfectly, and she seemed to thoroughly enjoy herself throughout the trip. We all had a blast.
After a night of settling in, we headed toward the Oregon coast where we’d rented a beach house in the tiny town of Manzanita. The house was directly across the street from the Pacific, with wonderful sunset views from the big front windows and porch.
I absolutely fell in love with Manzanita. There were only a couple of streets that made up the “downtown,” with little coffee shops, bookstores and restaurants bordering the sidewalk. Our first morning there, Anna and I headed to the Manzanita Grocery and Deli to pick up some food for the weekend. It was such a quaint little store, run by a man with “Candyman Carl” embroidered on his apron. As we walked by the register, he held out his hands. “Such pretty girls deserve a sweet treat.” As I stood there like a 5 year old with my hands cupped in front of me, he handed me some saltwater taffy and hershey’s kisses. I know you shouldn’t take candy from strangers, but there was something so grandfatherly about Candyman Carl. I thought, “if everyone here is like you, I’m moving in.”
We mostly enjoyed the beach from the warmth of the house. The air was cool, but the whipping wind made it freezing for this Georgia girl. It was cool enough for frost to accumulate on the car in the morning. We took a quick walk to the water to show Cami the Pacific, then took an equally quick walk back to the shelter of the beach house!
We took a trip down the coast toward the aquarium in Newport, stopping several times along the way. I love the way the mountains meet the ocean here.
When we first arrived at the aquarium, Miss Baby was not in her best mood. We pushed the stroller around the exhibits, but she fussed her protests until I picked her up. Then, with her new vantage point, she had a complete change in attitude. She LOVED seeing all the animals and fish up close.
She laughed and smiled and would get so excited each time we moved to another exhibit, that she’d start flailing her arms in some strange baby dog paddle. Like she was swimming through the aquarium. But by far, her favorite part was the crab dance. She was riding on my shoulders when we came upon a TV screen where you push a button and dance along with some cartoon crabs. Anna and I started dancing, and she thought it was hilarious! Jason got some great video of her shrieking on my shoulders, and as soon as I get a copy I’ll have to post it online. Too funny.
Back in Portland, we celebrated my first Mother’s Day. It was wonderful. I have so much to be thankful for, and couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend that special time. We enjoyed a terrific brunch at the Edgefield in the Columbia River Gorge. All the trees and flowers are in full bloom, and the scenery was breathtaking. We took this photo on the restaurant’s front porch.
After lunch, we drove to Multnomah Falls where the mountains are so green they’re unreal. I guess that’s the plus side of all that rain (although we had great sunny weather!). Miss Camibear was a little sleepy, but that made for some excellent cuddles.
Thankfully, Anna let us borrow one of baby “Polly’s” hats. Otherwise, Camille would’ve frozen at the falls. We stopped in the gift shop, and found another hat she could use on those extra cold days.
From the falls, we drove to the city of Hood River and watched kite surfers harness the wind. We poked around town for a while, before taking the scenic route back. The highway took us up on Mount Hood, where Cami touched her first snowball. She thought it was cold.
Monday, we spent some time checking out Portland, browsing through little shops and eating at our favorite restaurant. Dinner was excellent, but there was a heaviness over it for me, because our next stop was the airport.
Leaving was hard. I enjoy being with Anna and Jason so much, and would love for Camille and Polly to grow up together. But I think it actually hit me hardest once I was back home. I saw that Anna was online, and sent her an instant message. I told her we were having quesadillas and invited her over for dinner. It was a joke, obviously, but it made me sad anyway. It’s the kind of invitation I wish I could give honestly. They’re the kind of friends you could have over at a moment’s notice. They could pull up a chair at the table and feel like famly. I miss them.